Dear Morticia: When I was in the wholesale business I used to travel
five states calling on retailers. I learned to NEVER EVER call a new
account in order to try to obtain an appointment with them; as your
friend said, it's too easy for them to say "no" over the phone (and
now that I'm on the retail side of things I understand why--the fact
of the matter is that 9 out of 10 people who want to sell you
something either A) have designs you're not interested in or B) crazy
Anyway, I highly suggest you first scout out potential retailers by
going into their stores, acting like a typical customer, and then be
realistic in trying to determine whether they are likely to like your
jewelry. Also, if there are more than one retailer in a specific
area, you need to determine which one you would prefer carry your
line and than approach that store first; if they do end up buying,
don't then walk down the street and sell more of your jewelry to
their competition. Very unprofessional and you'll end up losing both
Finally, when you decide which retailer to approach:
a) try to be there first thing in the morning 15-20 minutes after
they've opened so you don't have to compete for their attention
against their customers.
b) bring a small amount of your best pieces into the store
attractively but functionally displayed in some type of tray--don't
be dragging boxes of stuff into their store, and don't be pulling
stuff out of plastic bags--look professional.
c) Personally, when I used to cold call on new accounts I didn't
even try to find out who the owner/manager/buyer was. Instead, I
would simply walk up to whomever was behind the counter or seemed to
be in charge, immediately pull out 1 or 2 trays thereby forcing them
to at least see my jewelry, and then give them a very quick 45 second
speil about myself and my jewelry.
If they were the owner or buyer they'd either like what they saw and
ask to see more or tell me thanks but no thanks. If it was just a
parttime sales person I was talking to, they could still probably
tell if the owner would be interested, and likewise, if they liked
what they saw they'd typically take a tray or two into the back to
show the owner. Either way I'd get the chance to put my jewelry in
front of a decision maker's eyes.
Regarding payment--no one is going to pre-pay for jewelry from some
stranger walking in off the street! Who are you and who knows if I'll
ever actually see you or your jewelry again?!
I always sold the most when I had the pieces right there for the
retailer to buy. If you're going to work off of orders, then I
suggest you insist on COD payment for the first one or two orders and
then tell them you'll consider NET-30 terms once you've developed a
relationship and history with them.
Just my .02!